Tuesday, 4 October 2016
The Long Journey Back, Part One - April 12th, 2016
The pain is deep, as though my bones are knives, slicing me inside out. The emergency doctor in the hospital trauma room is urgently talking to my parents. He keeps repeating he's baffled I'm still conscious, let alone in such an extreme state, writhing in pain, screaming for mercy, begging for help. He's exhausted the legal amount of available pharmaceutical narcotics. They've IV pushed enough pain medication and ketamine into my bloodstream to put down a horse. It is 4a.m. I feel as though I've been being burnt alive for over four hours now.
What is this? What's happening to me? I was home on a pass from the hospital just tonight. I was well. A few short days from being sent home. I felt fine. Then, around ten o'clock, a fever. I started to feel really odd. Something was off. For someone who has spent decades of their life in a hospital, you would think I'd have a million words to describe feeling sick. This was different. Like nothing I'd ever felt before. It came over me, obstructing all of my other senses with a weight of pain and sharpness I couldn't shake.
A wave of nausea came over me as the room began to spin. I pressed the call button on my bedside railing to alert my nurse. The bathroom now seemed miles away and I did not feel steady or safe walking there alone.
The patient alarm rang and rang. A single red light above the doorway of room 4041 blinked off and on but the call for help remained unanswered. After twenty minutes without a response from nursing staff, I had no choice other than to make the trip to the washroom on my own. The next thing I know, my bed-ridden roommate is hollering our nurse's name at the top of her lungs, everything goes black, and I hit the floor.
I'm shaking. Wind is rushing by me. My face, neck, and arms are stinging with tightness. I'm swelling up like a balloon. All the while I hear loud screams of someone being tortured. Through the pulsating red and black fireworks in front of my eyes, I realize it's not the wind. I'm rattling on a stretcher being rushed down a never ending hallway. The agonizing screams are coming from me. Every nerve in my body feels as though it's being skinned alive.
Since then, hours have passed in this small emergency trauma room, and for hours I've suffered. I look over at my parents. The doctor is explaining to my mom the biggest concern is that my airways have swollen dangerously narrow. Between blows of pain, I hear the words 'ventilator', and 'tracheotomy'. My mother is stoic, holding it all together like she always does. Going toe to toe like a heavyweight boxer with the ER doctor ensuring he knows exactly the complicated patient history he's dealing with, making sure everything that can possibly be done is being done. My dad looks a wreck. He's aged thirty more years in this room.
Dr. Trauma leans over me. My life is in his hands and I can actually see the weight of my situation bearing down heavily on his shoulders. As he speaks he looks at me but can't quite bring himself to make eye contact. He holds on to the metal railing next to me and bows his head. They are going to rush me to the Intensive Care Unit. Gasping between tears, I plead with him to make the pain stop. He tells me he can not safely give me any more pain medication. The only way to give me any relief is to medically induce a coma.
I beg him to do it.
A commotion of doctors and nurses erupts around me. The stretcher is on the move again. A far away voice belonging to the nurse beside me says I'm going to feel a strange sensation as I'm injected with medication. She instructs me to close my eyes. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it strikes me as odd how she can be so matter of fact when I'm terrified those will be the last words I ever hear.
A dark tunnel in a kaleidoscope of colors bursts to life behind my eyelids. Traveling at warp speed, it begins to focus in on a little white light. It gets larger and larger like white paint spilling over a black floor, washing away color and darkness until all I can see is glaring brightness. Suddenly, it begins to crack and separate, like a melting iceberg and falls apart beneath me. I clasp my hand over my eyes and free-fall. Like Alice down the rabbit hole.
To Be Continued...